LONDON: Olympic badminton officials and players cheered the Badminton World Federation decision Wednesday to disqualify eight women involved in a match-fixing scandal.
Chinese top seeds Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, Indonesia's Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari and South Korean duos Jung Kyung-Eun and Kim Ha-Na and Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung were thrown out of the women's doubles event.
Angry spectators booed and jeered as China's gold medal favorites swatted shuttlecocks beyond the boundaries and into the net and seemed to deliberately serve into the net, pairs wanting to lose to secure a better draw in the knockout rounds after a Chinese duo had been upset earlier.
"As a sportsman, that is really wrong," Charoen Wattanasin, executive board member of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and a Thailand Olympic Committee vice president, told AFP.
"Once you are on the court, like it or not, you have to try to win. That is why the spectators paid their money.
"Sooner or later something had to be done. I see the motive. I feel sorry for what happened. I'm not condemning anyone. But the disciplinary committee had to do something."
Australian Olympic badminton coach Lasse Bundgaard, a native of Denmark, praised the decision as the proper message to send to discourage others from putting long-term strategy ahead of fundamental sporting principles.
"That's great for the sport," he said. "What they have done is the right thing to do. It says the world doesn't go for that. That's a good decision.
"That's the right message to send, that world badminton will not accept that kind of behavior."
Danish team leader Finn Traerup-Hansen said the banished women violated the basic code of the Olympics to try their best for victory.
"It was not in the spirit of the Olympics as far as I am concerned," he said. "If you look at the reaction form the public who paid good money to watch the matches, you know why they have chosen to disqualify the players.
"I was a little bit surprised they took that action. But when we have rules put in place we have to apply sanctions. When rules are violated you must do something. We can't do nothing. That is not an option."
But Traerup-Hansen also said that with the pressure to bring home medals in order to keep funding for certain sports, he was not shocked that Chinese athletes try to avoid each other as long as possible to enhance a multiple medal bid.
"It doesn't come as a surprise," he said. "In terms of our thinking, you are playing for yourself. Elsewhere, you play for your country. If the country is working on getting the most possible medals, the thinking is different.
"It might not have been the players who were responsible for what we saw last night."
The hint at team orders, often criticized in Formula One when teams order racers to switch positions in a worry about drivers points over placement in a specific event, comes from a conflict in the Olympic ideals.
"We are pushed by our governing bodies to produce medals," he said. "The other side of it is the Olympics. There are lots of conflicts in the Olympics. On one hand you want us to act on ideals and on the other you want medals."
Those going for medals offered praise for the move as well.
"I think it's really important they do something about it because we've been seeing it a lot," Denmark's Christinna Pedersen said. "It's a shame for our sport. I can't believe they could do it at the Olympics. It's such a shame."
South Korean Lee Hyun-Il said a second-ranked Chinese team's loss to a Danish duo earlier in group play led to the match-throwing move by the other Chinese team to avoid an early showdown that would end twin medal hopes.
"Chinese people have better skills and were better trained but they shouldn't have lost to Denmark," Lee said. "That was the flame that sparked them trying to lose.
"This is a decision by the BWF and we have to accept it. It has never happened in the Olympics before and it shows that players can make mistakes."
Denmark's Jan O Jorgensen hit back at the BWF for the format that opened the door to the match-fix move.
"Don't hate the player, hate the game," he said. "It's the fault of the BWF. It's the set up.